Owner Mikhail Prokhorov and the Brooklyn Nets made one of the biggest blockbuster moves last summer by acquiring veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from the Boston Celtics, in hopes of winning an NBA championship. Now, after being bounced out of the playoffs by the Miami Heat in the conference semifinals in five games, the Nets are at the brink of losing their star players this offseason.
Both Pierce and Garnett were brought in to be the perfect complementary pieces to Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez. But after losing Lopez to a season-ending injury and watching Williams decline in production the entire year, the Nets managed to clinch the sixth seed by finishing 44-38 after starting off 10-21.
There are many question marks and uncertainties for the Nets heading into this summer. But the biggest one has to be the decisions from Garnett and Pierce, who are in the midst of possibly leaving Brooklyn for other endeavors.
It’s obvious that Garnett has little left in the tank to make a big impact for the Nets if he elects to retire following the 2014-15 season. Due to restrictions set forth by first-year head coach Jason Kidd, Garnett only saw the floor for 20.5 minutes a game, compared to 29.7 minutes during his last year with the Celtics. Garnett’s limited appearances caused him to have career-low averages in points (6.5) and blocks (0.7).
So what’s the attraction of returning to the Barclays Center after playing in merely 54 games for KG? Money.
According to Tim Bontemps of the New York Post, Garnett has a player option for 2014-15. Staying in Brooklyn will allow Garnett to earn $12 million, something that no other team will offer the 38-year old.
Passing up on the chance to make that much money seems outlandish for a player that this stage of his career. If that also means Paul Pierce will most likely re-sign with the Nets, shouldn’t Garnett opt in rather than walk away?
Pierce is set to be a free agent next season and will have an opportunity to sign with a franchise that appeals to him. The Nets do have the advantage of retaining him next season because of the fact that they do have his Bird Rights, meaning that they can offer him more money than other teams can. While a nice contract does seem appealing, winning should be the biggest factor for The Truth before heading off into the sunset.
Like Garnett, Pierce had his minutes limited by Kidd to 28 minutes in order to keep both of his seasoned veterans healthy and fresh in time for the playoffs. Appearing in 68 games, Pierce averaged career lows in points (13.5), rebounds (4.6) and assists (2.4). Pierce’s biggest moment as a Net came in the first round of the playoffs against the Toronto Raptors in Game 7 when he blocked Kyle Lowry‘s shot to help Brooklyn clinch the series in Toronto.
The 36-year old is confident that he can still play a big role for a team for another year or two. Whoever that may be is uncertain as Pierce told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com that he doesn’t know what the future may hold for him.
“I haven’t really put much thought into it,” Pierce said of what his future holds and if he wants to remain a Net. “I put my whole focus into this season, it’s my last year of the contract. I will sit back and talk to the family and see where my options are from there and go from there.”
“I think I still have something in the tank I can give a team,” he added. “Maybe one or two (years) at the most.”
If Pierce is poised to win another championship before calling it quits, heading out West to reunite with his former coach in Doc Rivers to play for the Los Angeles Clippers is a realistic option, per Marc Stein of ESPN.com, who explains that this scenario could occur if Garnett decides to retire from the game. Stein also proposed the option of Pierce retiring as a Boston Celtic, even though the team is a year or two away from contending for a championship. They do however, have two first round draft picks this year that would benefit from Pierce’s presence in terms of having a mentor helping them along the way during their rookie years.
It’s obvious that both Pierce and Garnett are not the same All-Star caliber players that we saw during their tenures with the Celtics. Despite that, the Nets have few options, if not none, to improve this offseason from the draft or acquiring free agents. By reloading with the same starting five next season, Brooklyn will have their window of winning an NBA title open yet again.